UNFPA Asst. Rep Calls for More Investment in Liberia’s Health Sector

UNFPA LiberiaOffice Assistant Country Representative, Dr. Philderald Pratt, congratulatesthe graduates by handling diplomas over to them

Monrovia – The Officer-in-Charge at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Liberia Country Office, Dr. Philderald Pratt, has said continuous government and partners’ investments in the health sector are key to the reduction of maternal deaths in Liberia.

The 2013 Liberia Demographic and Health Survey (LDHS) puts maternal death in the country at 1,072/100,000 live births. This means that for every 100,000 women, who go to deliver their babies, at least 1,072 unfortunately die in the process.

Speaking recently at the 9th graduation ceremony of the Esther Bacon School of Nursing in Zorzor, Lofa County, Dr. Pratt, who is also the Assistant Representative of the specialized organ of the UN, called on the Liberian government to remain committed to the implementation of the Abuja Declaration of 2001. The declaration calls on all African countries to allocate at least 15 percent of their annual budget to improve the health sector.

He called for more investment in strengthening the health system with equipment and supplies as well as trained manpower; noting that providing quality training for a the workforce is essential to improving the overall health indicators of Liberia.

“Health training institutions need to have the requisite implements, equipment and materials to prepare skilled health workers; in order to ensure that these institutions meet the minimum criteria set internationally by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other global health bodies,” Dr. Pratt said.

The UNFPA deputy boss called on all health workforce training institutions in the country to ensure that the recruitment of students is based on merit. 

“We must ensure that the process of recruiting our physician assistants, nursing and midwifery students are transparent and free of bias, nepotism, tribalism, favoritism and political affiliation. We must desist from imposing students on training institutions rather than entering through the gate of merit. We must stop calling teachers and instructors to tell them she is my interest,” he urged.

According to him, though Liberia has made some gains in increasing its health workforce over the last two decades, the Government and stakeholders must not relent in their efforts to ensure a resilient health sector equipped with the necessary equipment, supplies and skilled and committed personnel.

The UNFPA Liberia Assistant Representative lamented Liberia’s high maternal deaths, which according to the 2013 LDHS is at 1,072/100,000 live births.

He called for the full implementation of all strategies aimed at tackling maternal mortality in the country to include the strengthening of policies around maternal health, strengthening of training institutions’ curricula, provision of emergency obstetric and neonatal care service, community involvement through training in basic lifesaving skills for prompt and early referral, strengthened referral system, and regular provision of drugs and equipment, among others.

Meanwhile, the UNFPA Liberia Assistant Representative and Officer-in-Charge has called on healthcare providers across the country to remain ethical and committed to their profession.

“We must respect our patients, protect their rights, maintain their dignity; and remain sensitive to their religious and cultural rights,” he advised.